How to pronounce Michigan cities with lead

Is there a link between lead and crime? - Essential - 2021

No lead exposure is safe. Chronic lead poisoning can lead to a long list of diseases, including anorexia, anemia, tremor, and gastrointestinal symptoms. Exposure to lead is particularly bad for the developing brain and can cause stunted growth, developmental retardation, and intellectual retardation in children.

In addition to human exposure, chronic exposure to lead also has a major impact on the economy. It is estimated that the lead engagement costs about $ 50 billion a year for Americans. Exposure to lead is avoidable and the procedure is inexpensive. For every dollar spent on reducing lead exposure in residential construction, it is estimated that the return to society will be between $ 17 and $ 220.

Research shows that the effects of lead in early life can extend into later life. Most of the research has focused on how lead is related to impaired intelligence. However, we also learn more about how lead is linked to disorder and delinquency. In particular, the "lead crime hypothesis" suggests that exposure to lead leads to crime.


In 1943, Byers and Lord first examined the link between exposure to lead and aggressive and violent behavior. Prior to that time, it was believed that the appropriate treatment for lead exposure would not have long-term adverse effects.

However, Byers worried that exposure to lead could lead to aggressive behavior after he learned that two patients he had treated for lead exposure - patients who allegedly had recovered - attacked their teachers at school and on others participated in aggressive behaviors. Upon further investigation, Byers and Lord found that 19 out of 20 "recovered" children in school had significant behavioral and cognitive problems.

Although Byers and Lord became aware of the link between lead and bad behavior early on, it wasn't until the 1980s that scientists began studying how exposure to lead might play a role in aggressive, violent, or delinquent behavior.


Let's look at a few studies that support the link between crime and lead level. A common thread that runs through almost all studies examining the relationship is that these studies are retrospective. In other words, they look to the past to determine relationships instead of the future (i.e., randomized controlled studies). This distinction makes perfect sense as it is unethical to approve research participants for leadership. However, because these studies are retrospective, it is difficult to establish a real causal relationship.

However, a growing collection of data representing individuals, cities, counties, states, and countries makes it clear how whereabouts are linked to crime. These results have been repeated on several scales, which increases their generalizability. In the face of such results, it is difficult to ignore the reality that could lead to crime.

In a 2016 Australian study, Taylor and co-authors looked at the crime rates of assault and fraud as a function of lead concentration in the air between 15 and 24 years earlier. The reason for the time lag was because the researchers were looking for people who had committed crimes exposed to lead during development.

The researchers found a strong association between early air lead exposure and subsequent crime rates. Notably, Taylor and his colleagues were looking for things that might affect the associations, such as: B. The number of people who graduated from high school and household income. Many factors influence crime - poor schools, poor health care, poor diet, and exposure to other environmental toxins - and the researchers found that lead content was the most important contributing factor to the crime.

Like the United States, Australia is one of the world's leading producers of lead. Historically, lead has been found in paint, gasoline, and emissions from mining and smelting operations. Between 1932 and 2002, the year when gasoline was finally removed from lead in Australia, emissions from leaded gasoline were over 240,000 tonnes and dwarf emissions from mining and smelting. It is noteworthy that in the United States the head start was finally taken out of gasoline in 1996.

According to the Taylor and co-authors:

Action must be taken to reduce or eliminate existing sources of lead air pollution wherever practicable. Exposure to these sources can increase antisocial behavior and cause unnecessary societal costs. These sources include existing mining and smelting operations in Australia and elsewhere and the consumption of lead (gasoline) in countries where it is still sold: Algeria, Iraq and Yemen: these countries still have 103 million people from the use There are also political ramifications for communities that have historically been affected by the deposition of atmospheric lead in populated areas such as homes, gardens, playgrounds and schools. These deposits represent a persistent risk as the half-life of environmental pollution is more than 700 years. "

The preceding quote suggests that lead must remain at home, in playgrounds, and in schools even if lead is reduced when lead emissions are lowered.

In an American study from 2016, Feigenbaum and Müller asked a current research question: whether the use of lead pipes in public waterworks was associated with an increase in later murder rates. This research question is timely because in 2015 the Flint, Michigan water supply was found to have high levels of lead from corrosion of lead pipes in the waterworks when the city switched its water supply in a cost-saving move in 2014

To find out whether lead has been linked to murder, the researchers looked at homicide rates among city dwellers between 1921 and 1936. These rates apply to the first generation of people raised on lead pipe water. Towards the end of the 19th century, lead pipes were being installed en masse. The researchers found that the use of lead service pipelines was linked to a significant increase in city-wide homicide rates. The homicide rate rose by 24 percent in cities that used lead pipes.

"If lead exposure increases crime," write Feigenbaum and Müller, "then the solution is to invest in lead removal. Even if lead removal does not reduce crime, a dangerous poison is removed from the environment. Other strategies reducing crime may not have similar positive side effects. "

In a 2017 study that assessed 120,000 children born in Rhode Island between 1990 and 2004, Aizer and Currie examined the association between preschool age and subsequent school closings and teenage incarceration. According to the researchers, "the odds of being dropped out of school increased by one unit by 6.4% to 9.3% and the likelihood of incarceration increased by 27% to 74%, although the latter only applies to boys."

The researchers studied children who lived near busy roads and were born in the early 1990s. The soil near busy roads had secondary lead contamination over the decades from the use of leaded gasoline, and these children had higher levels of lead in preschool. The researchers compared these children to children who lived on other streets and children who lived on the same streets, but years later when lead pollution decreased.

Based on their findings, Aizer and Currie suggest that the switch from unleaded to unleaded gasoline played an important role in reducing crime in the 1990s and 2000s.

In a 2004 study, Stretesky and Lynch investigated the relationship between airborne lead levels and crime in 2,772 US states. After checking several confusing factors, the researchers found that lead levels had a direct impact on property and crime rates. The researchers also found that the most resource-affected or poorest counties experienced the most crime as a potential consequence of lead exposure.

"If this assumption is correct," write Stretesky and Lynch, "enhanced screening, prevention and treatment efforts should be of greatest benefit in the most deprived."

In addition, according to the researchers:

Exposure to lead has both class and racial correlates that work at the sociological level. Lower populations and minorities are more likely to be more likely to be exposed to lead than other income or racial groups Explaining racial and class differences between races and classes is consistent with criminological evidence and may partially explain these differences. Further examination of this problem is needed to clarify this relationship. "


We don't know exactly how lead exposure can affect criminal activity. Even so, researchers have their hypotheses.

First, exposure to lead can lead to decreased impulse control and influence aggressive tendencies. People who are more impulsive and aggressive could then commit a crime.

Second, increased blood lead levels during childhood are linked to decreased brain volume in adulthood. These effects can be seen in the prefrontal and anterior cingulated cortexes - parts of the brain that control executive function, mood, and decision-making. These effects on brain structure and function could somehow combine and play a role in later criminal activity.

Third, the "Neurotoxicity Hypothesis" states that exposure to lead disrupts neurotransmitters and hormones in ways that contribute to aggressive and violent behavior.

Finally, more study needs to be done before declaring that this is a real cause of crime. Nonetheless, sociologists, criminologists, and policy makers can use these studies to improve their understanding of the relationship between crime and lead.